The Legacy of Cain HTML version

18. Eunice's Diary
Here I am, writing my history of myself, once more, by my own bedside. Some
unexpected events have happened while I have been away. One of them is the absence of
my sister.
Helena has left home on a visit to a northern town by the seaside. She is staying in the
house of a minister (one of papa's friends), and is occupying a position of dignity in
which I should certainly lose my head. The minister and his wife and daughters propose
to set up a Girls' Scripture Class, on the plan devised by papa; and they are at a loss, poor
helpless people, to know how to begin. Helena has volunteered to set the thing going.
And there she is now, advising everybody, governing everybody, encouraging
everybody--issuing directions, finding fault, rewarding merit--oh, dear, let me put it all in
one word, and say: thoroughly enjoying herself.
Another event has happened, relating to papa. It so distressed me that I even forgot to
think of Philip--for a little while.
Traveling by railway (I suppose because I am not used to it) gives me the headache.
When I got to our station here, I thought it would do me more good to walk home than to
ride in the noisy omnibus. Half-way between the railway and the town, I met one of the
doctors. He is a member of our congregation; and he it was who recommended papa,
some time since, to give up his work as a minister and take a long holiday in foreign
"I am glad to have met with you," the doctor said. "Your sister, I find, is away on a visit;
and I want to speak to one of you about your father."
It seemed that he had been observing papa, in chapel, from what he called his own
medical point of view. He did not conceal from me that he had drawn conclusions which
made him feel uneasy. "It may be anxiety," he said, "or it may be overwork. In either
case, your father is in a state of nervous derangement, which is likely to lead to serious
results--unless he takes the advice that I gave him when he last consulted me. There must
be no more hesitation about it. Be careful not to irritate him--but remember that he must
rest. You and your sister have some influence over him; he won't listen to me."
Poor dear papa! I did see a change in him for the worse--though I had only been away for
so short a time.
When I put my arms round his neck, and kissed him, he turned pale, and then flushed up
suddenly: the tears came into his eyes. Oh, it was hard to follow the doctor's advice, and
not to cry, too; but I succeeded in controlling myself. I sat on his knee, and made him tell
me all that I have written here about Helena. This led to our talking next of the new lady,
who is to live with us as a member of the family. I began to feel less uneasy at the
prospect of being introduced to this stranger, when I heard that she was papa's cousin.